Family Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)

Least Concern

Violet-tailed Sylph (Aglaiocercus coelestis)


French: Sylphe à queue violette German: Langschwanzsylphe Spanish: Silfo celeste

Cynanthus cœlestis


, 1861,



Closely related to A. kingii and A. berlepschi. Formerly treated as a race of A. kingii, but differs in morphology and altitudinal range, and female said to be “notably different” from that of A. kingii; differences claimed in literature, however, are not always constant, and white breast patch of female not always present (and seen on one specimen of A. k. smaragdinus). Further research might result in remerging of present species with others in genus but this seems unlikely, as present form occurs sympatrically with A. kingii in Colombian W Andes (Cauca and Nariño), where it occupies slightly different habitats. Proposed race pseudocoelestis best considered synonymous with nominate, since morphological differences superficial. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. c. coelestis (Gould, 1861) – Pacific slope of W Andes of both Colombia and N & C Ecuador.
  • A. c. aethereus (Chapman, 1925) – SW Ecuador (S from Zaruma, in El Oro, to W Loja).
  • Descriptive notes

    Male 18–21 cm (including outer tail feathers 10–15 cm), female 9·5–9·7 cm; 4·6–5·2 g. Male has short, straight, black bill... read more


    Presumed song a continuous series of short notes, “psit..psit..psit..”, at a rate of c. 2 notes/... read more


    Cloudforest, forest borders, semi-open terrain with shrubs and stands of trees, at 1000–2000... read more

    Food and feeding

    Nectar of flowering vines, shrubs and trees, including Bomarea, Clusia, ericads, bromeliads and Inga. Often... read more


    Oct–Feb. Domed nest with side entrance is built from moss and spider webs in clumps of moss or epiphytes. Clutch two white eggs;... read more


    Sedentary, with some local altitudinal dispersal depending on flowering season. At La Planada... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common resident of cloudforest. The species will tolerate areas of man-made habitats as long as patches of forest remain. Several... read more

    Recommended citation

    Schuchmann, K.L. & Boesman, P. (2020). Violet-tailed Sylph (Aglaiocercus coelestis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 29 February 2020).